The economic fortune of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council(NSC) as the nation’s Port Economic Regulator(PER) is set to improve significantly soon as one the nation’s cash-cow parastatals with the move by the federal government to review its workers’salary structure, increase its funding sources and its designation as the operator of the electronic Cargo Tracking Note(CTN), which now includes import and export oil cargo.
The implementation of the newly repackaged CTN approved by President Mohammadu Buhari for NSC to superintend will yield an estimated sum of $34.9 billion(N16.07trillion) in fifteen years. While the direct revenue is to generate $1.5 billion,representing a yearly income of $100million,the implementation of the scheme will also help Nigeria in indirect revenue over the period, amounting to about an estimated sum of $33.4 billion.
The Minister of Transportation, Muazu Sambo in his remarks while on visit to the head office of NSC in Lagos, last week, demonstrated commitment to approving a new salary structure for the Council; help the agency access its statutory 1 per cent stabilization levy denied it since approved decades now.
NSC is being funded from 2 per cent of the 7 per cent port development levy generated through the Nigeria Customs Service(NCS). And this has been grossly inadequate for efficient and effective operations, even as it lacks any legal or legislative backing.
The seeming insistence of President Mohammadu Buhari on not to assent to the National Transport Commission(NTC) bill passed to him on three occasions necessitated the call for the amendment of the NSC enabling Act to accommodate its recently conferred responsibilities as well as function optimally.
Consequently, Sambo had set up two inter –ministerial committees on NSC amendment bill and salary review which has completed its work and recommended an upward review of the workers’ salary in line with other pay package of maritime industry parastatals.
According to the Minister, “On the 1 per cent stabilization levy, I am happy that the committee has completed its work and the report will be on my desk soon. It is statutory and your right by law. In fact, Iam wondering why it has taken this long. We will get this behind us very soon.”
He added:”On the NSC amendment bill, I am still waiting for the committee report to come to me. I have robust relationship with the Attorney General of the Federation and the National Assembly. I want to assure you that once you complete your work and bring it before me we will get it behind us before the end of this administration.”
Confirming the conferment of CTN role on NSC, the Minister said, ”The president said the responsibility of implementing CTN should be transferred to the traditional role holders of CTN, which is the Federal Ministry of Transportation(FMOT).
“So, the FMOT is saddled with the responsibility through the Nigerian Shippers’ Council. We therefore have to ensure that the confidence Mr. President has placed in us is not misplaced. And I dare say that it is a very heavy responsibility. You have to hit the ground running. This brings me to the question: Is NSC ready in terms of automation to implement electronic cargo tracking note? I believe it is from what I have seen today.
Speaking on how CTN benefits the common man on the street when implemented, Sambo said,”The electronic cargo tracking note over a period of 15 years will roughly give us revenue in the region of 1.5 billion dollars. The implementation of the scheme will also help Nigeria in indirect revenue over the period amounting to about an estimated sum of 33.4 billion dollars. This indirect revenue will be mainly due to loss prevention as additional benefits this scheme will give Nigeria.
“The additional benefits are: It will improve greatly safety and national security; it will generate real time cargo import and export statistics and establishment of cargo statistics bank for Nigeria, which NSC is doing now but not on a scale that is more efficient or as accurate as cargo tracking will give you.
“It will also generate trade intelligence and facilitate risk management and fraud control; it will provide cargo tracking information alert; it will also provide a tool for full compliance with the SOLAS and ISPS code and enhance safety of life and cargo security. It will also reduce the cost of doing business in Nigerian ports by minimizing certain logistics processes like physical examination of goods;
“ It will provide verifiable information on all shipments; it also provide harmony in cargo processing and clearance procedure ; it will provide data back up for all the ethical implementing agencies; deployment of full CTN and e-commerce technology for virtual interaction thus minimizing physical contacts amongst port operators and users; improving clearance time and eliminating surcharges such as demurrage.
“This last point is one area the common man will benefit from because whatever cost an importer incurs is transferred to the consumer. So the less it costs me to import the lower my cost to the consumer because ultimately I want to sell as quickly as possible and turn over and turn around the money.” Sambo noted.
In his welcome address, the Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer(CEO) of NSC, Hon. Emmanuel Jime applauded the Minister’s commitment to the transformation of the transport sector, saying he hit the ground running by identifying low-hanging fruits, which has enabled him to achieve scores of milestones.
His words:”I identified the implementation of the Cargo Tracking Note(CTN) and the challenges we have had trying to bring about its implementation but you assured me to relax and that I should consider the implementation of CTN done. Honourable Minister you are a man of your words.
“Just few days ago you made a presentation to Mr. President on the implementation of CTN in way that only you know how to do and today NSC has joined you to celebrate the feat on mandate to implement CTN. But for your determination, even at the last minute, I know that there are some agencies of the government who were bent on taking away the implementation of CTN from NSC. You stood your ground and today, NSC will be Implementing the CTN.” He stated.
Jime had also called for the strengthening of the legal framework of .NSC. “The NSC Act as constituted does not enable it to deliver efficiency as expected. At this point, we thank you for having constituted a Ministerial committee to review the NSC amendment bill. Knowing who you are, I believe that the NSC amended Act will be achieved within the available time you will be in office. Last but not the least, the funding sources of the NSC has not enable us to perform as effectively as we should. I have pointed out the statutory provision that provided for the source of funding. The 1 per cent freight stabilization levy is the main source of our revenue but we have not been able to access that revenue.
“Today, we are relying on what government in its wisdom decided to bring as source of revenue as stop gap which is 2/7 of the port development levy. This source of revenue, technically speaking has no real legal backing outside the fact that it is completely inadequate. I am happy to announce that the Minister has constituted a committee to look into this. And I have heard from the grapevine that the Ministerial committee set up has completed its work and has made very beautiful recommendations. There are a couple of other low-hanging fruits but the ones put forward are the ones meant for this event.” NSC boss added.